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Rosberg regains pole in Drivers’ Championship

FORMULA ONE: Nico Rosberg has reasserted himself in the 2016 Formula One championship fight after executing a flawless weekend at the Singapore Grand Prix.


Michael Lamonato

Tuesday 20 September 2016, 10:50AM


Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg celebrates after winning the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday (Sept 18). Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg celebrates after winning the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday (Sept 18). Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP

The German, who leads teammate Lewis Hamilton by eight points, cruised through practice, dominated qualifying to take pole position and eased to victory in the sport’s most demanding grand prix.

The only threat to his straightforward victory came in the final 15 laps of the race when his pursuing rivals – Daniel Ricciardo in second, Hamilton in third and Kimi Räikkönen in fourth – made a sudden switch from a conservative two-stop strategy to an aggressive three-stop race.

The trio rapidly closed in on Rosberg, who didn’t have enough time in hand to make a third stop of his own without losing track position, but lapped traffic slowed Ricciardo’s run, leaving him a tantalisingly close 0.4 seconds behind at the chequered flag.

“[With] 15 laps to go … the team said he would be with me at the end of the race,” Rosberg recounted. “So for sure I had to be on it in that last stint and get everything right and nail all those laps.

“By the time I started the last lap I knew it was going to be enough because Daniel’s tyres weren’t as fresh any more.

“It really worked out, with management, all the way to the end. The tyre lasted just right, so I’m very, very happy.”

For Daniel Ricciardo the race came painfully close to fulfilling his pre-race prophecy of making good on the race victory he lost in Monaco through botched team strategy.

In what Red Bull Racing pegged as its best hope of scoring its second win of the season, the Australian would have been forgiven for expecting more, but he refused to be disappointed with his fifth podium of the season.

“I’m sitting here pretty happy because I felt I did all I could,” he said. “[It was] the perfect race.

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“It was fun. It was nice to be able to push to the last lap and know that I was at least putting some pressure on him and giving the crowd still a little bit of hope.”

With no more street circuits remaining on the calendar, Ricciardo later admitted his best hope of securing an elusive first win for 2016 would be in a wet race.

But the man with the most reflecting to do after the Singapore Grand Prix is Lewis Hamilton, who suffered a difficult weekend culminating in losing his hard-fought championship lead.

“A very tough day today,” he said on the podium. “This weekend has just been a bit of a tricky one for me, but I’m still glad I could get back up on the podium and get some points for the team.”

From the Monaco Grand Prix in May to the mid-season break Hamilton had outscored his teammate by 62 points and looked to have Rosberg on the back foot.

Since returning from his summer holiday a back-of-grid start for installing a new power unit in Belgium, a poor start in Italy, and now a scrappy weekend in Singapore has seen the momentum swing rapidly back to the other side of the garage.

“We’ve come from 43 points down, so theoretically eight points isn’t anywhere near as steep as that,” he insisted. “But still, Nico’s been performing fantastically well … I expect him to continue like that, so I’ve got to make sure that I do the same.”

Of the six rounds remaining this season, three were won by Rosberg compared to two by Hamilton in 2015.

Rosberg championship challenge, which seemed all but extinguished at the end of July, looks to be confidently back on track.

 

 

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